How to Use the Free Trial for Microsoft 365 Compliance

Microsoft is making a free 90-day trial of Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance licenses available to tenants who don’t yet have compliance licenses. The purpose is to allow organizations to test the advanced compliance functionality which requires Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 licenses. Microsoft obviously hopes that organizations will be so delighted at the functionality that they sign up for E5 licenses in the long run. If you don’t want to run a test in your production tenant, you can achieve much the same effect by getting an E5 trial tenant and testing there.

How Teams Makes Webinar Information Available for Search and eDiscovery

Teams-based webinars are a popular way of hosting events like product briefings or announcements. Behind the scenes, the Microsoft 365 substrate stores information about webinar speakers, attendance, and event details as lists in the meeting organizer’s OneDrive for Business account. The information stored in OneDrive is indexed and available for eDiscovery. It’s a great example of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem in action.

How to Manage Anonymized User Data in Microsoft 365 Usage Reports

The usage reports available in the Microsoft 365 admin center, Teams admin center, and other places now include anonymized user information by default. The new default became active on September 1, 2021 and the organization setting applies to any usage data generated by the Microsoft Graph usage reports API, which means that some scripts might create reports less interesting and useful than before. It’s a good change for privacy, but will organizations persist with the new default?

How to Find Delve Accounts with Disabled Document Insights

Microsoft has replaced the controls which disabled document insights in Delve with new Graph-based settings. However, you might still have a bunch of users with the Delve settings who need to migrate to the Graph settings. In this article, we explore how the settings work and how to query the Graph to find the set of users who disabled the setting in Delve. We can then use PowerShell to add those accounts to the group of disabled insights users for the Graph-based settings.

September 2021 Update Available for Office 365 for IT Pros

The September 2021 update is available to subscribers of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. The update for the only constantly updated book covers changes across Office 365 in the last month, including new functionality and features, a new SLA figure for the service, and a bunch of updated PowerShell examples. And we fixed some annoying typos. All in all, it was a busy but productive month. Please update and use the new text at your earliest convenience. We wouldn’t like you to use now obsolete information.

Microsoft 365’s New Retention Assistant Processes Multiple Workloads

Microsoft has moved retention processing for SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams, and Yammer from the Managed Folder Assistant to a new retention assistant. (background processing job). It’s part of an effort to use workload-agnostic processing whenever possible to perform retention actions across Microsoft 365.

How to Remove a Single Service Plan from Multiple Microsoft 365 Accounts with PowerShell

In this post, we describe how to use PowerShell to remove a single service plan from Microsoft 365 licenses using PowerShell. The script can remove any service plan from any SKU (license) in a tenant. You might want to do this to disable access to an obsolete feature (like Sway) or to prevent access to a new feature until the organization is ready to support user activity.

How to Monitor Changes to Microsoft 365 Retention Policies

Microsoft 365 retention policies control how the system removes items automatically from Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, and other locations. Because these policies are so powerful, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on who makes changes to their settings. The audit log is a natural place to go looking for information about policy updates and while we can find information there, some of the data is oddly formatted or obscured for some reason. Persistence and PowerShell delivers answers, but this is a task way harder than it should be.

Is Microsoft’s Claimed 250 Million Teams Monthly Active Users Believable?

Microsoft claims that Teams has “nearly” 250 million monthly active users, which is quite a jump for the 145 million reported in April. We take a closer look at the numbers to try and figure out how Microsoft arrived at such a number. It seems like they can get there by lumping the numbers for commercial, education, and personal users together, but that’s not the same as reporting a nice simple number for commercial usage.

Microsoft Introduces Data Privacy Tag for Message Center Notifications

The message center in the Microsoft 365 admin center will soon use a new data privacy tag to highlight specific service updates to tenant administrators. No messages with the new tag have yet appeared, so it’s hard to know how Microsoft plans to use the new tag or what kind of attachments it will make available to administrators to help understand the sensitive data involved in data privacy. While we’re waiting, we took at look at the tags in use today and wrote some PowerShell to report which tag is most popular.

Publication of Office 365 for IT Pros (2022 Edition)

Office 365 for IT Pros, the only constantly-updated eBook covering Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite, has just released its eighth (2022) edition. The book is available from Gumroad.com. Completely revised after an end-to-end review, the new edition will receive monthly updates over the coming year to keep subscribers fully abreast of new developments within Office 365 and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

Microsoft’s Collaborative Work Model Ignores Practical Realities

Microsoft’s Collaborative Work Model (CWM) tries to paint a picture of how Microsoft 365 apps help people to organize tasks and get things done more efficiently. CWM isn’t a bad thing, as far as it goes, but it’s just not practical because it ignores the critical role played by email as the glue connecting Microsoft 365 apps together. Or more correctly, email and the substrate. Oh well, it’s only a marketing message…

Understand Licensing for Microsoft 365 Information Protection and Governance

Licensing is everyone’s favorite topic. Combine it with information protection and governance and peoples’ eyes glaze over. Even so, it’s important to know what information protection and compliance features need which licenses as you don’t want to get into a position where something stops working because Microsoft enables some code to enforce licensing requirements. This post covers the basics of licensing and how Microsoft differentiates between manual processing and automated processing when deciding if a feature needs a standard or premium license.

Microsoft 365 Compliance Center Gets New Content Search UI

The Microsoft 365 compliance center has a new content search UI. The new UI is prettier than before, but it’s also slower and more buggy. After several years of effort to develop content searches, you’d expect Microsoft to do better. A lot betterr. Unhappily, the beauty of the new interface seems to have distracted the engineers from the problems that become all too apparent when you try to use content searches to do real work. What, if any testing, was done to validate the new UI is unknown.

How Modern Comments Work in Word for Windows

The Word for Windows desktop app in Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise boasts “modern comments.” Some good features are included, like snippet previews in the email notifications sent when reviewers post comments to documents. Word even has its own task management capabilities which aren’t linked to Microsoft 365 tasks. That’s about the only bum note sounded by modern comments.

How to Report Membership of Microsoft 365 Compliance Role Groups

Compliance role groups control access to Microsoft 365 compliance functionality. A new permissions page makes it easier to manage these groups in the Microsoft 365 compliance center, where you can also manage the Azure AD roles used by Microsoft 365 compliance. If you want to generate a report about who holds what role, you’ve got to use PowerShell. The code is easy once you know which roles you want to report.

Microsoft Whiteboard Moves its Storage to OneDrive for Business

Microsoft has announced that Whiteboard will move its storage from Azure to OneDrive for Business. It’s a good move because it addresses several important issues. around search, eDiscovery, compliance, and data governance The switchover is due in October 2021, but Office 365 tenants will get an opt-in choice to move earlier.

Best and Most Comprehensive Office 365 Book Updated Again

The May 2021 update for the Office 365 for IT Pros (2021 edition) eBook contains changes to 20 of the 24 chapters. The changes cover many topics from Microsoft’s FY21 Q3 results to new sensitivity labels settings for Outlook. Now spanning over 1,300 pages, Office 365 for IT Pros is packed full of practical and most importantly, up-to-date knowledge and guidance about Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Planner, Azure AD, PowerShell, the Microsoft Graph, and many other topics.

Teams Daily Active User Number Hits 145 Million

In their FY21 Q3 results, Microsoft announced that Teams now boasts 145 million daily active users. That’s a growth of 30 million over the last six months. Office 365 now has nearly 300 million paid seats. A paid seat is different to an active user, but Microsoft loves to mix up its data so that people believe what Microsoft wants them to think. In any case, the numbers are impressive.

Teams Usage Data is Finally Obfuscated in Reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The Teams usage data reported in the Microsoft 365 admin center can now be obfuscated. Teams is the last workload to support this facility. It’s all very well to anonymize, deidentify, or obfuscate user data to protect individual privacy and it’s appropriate to do so in the Microsoft 365 admin center where people with several roles can access the data, but having a single on/off switch for data obfuscation for the Microsoft Graph Reports API is a real pain.

How to Control Updates for User Photos in Microsoft 365 Apps

Organizations can choose to control updates of user photos by policy in their Office 365 tenants or allow users to go ahead and use any image they like. In this article, we explore the value of having a user photo for every Office 365 account (and Teams and Groups too) and the choices organizations must make when they decide whether to control user-driven updates.

How to Find a Microsoft 365 Tenant Identifier

Every Microsoft 365 tenant has a tenant identifier. Sometimes you need to know what the identifier is, so here are several options to find it from PowerShell to the Azure AD portal to an external service. Tenant identifiers are public and need to be, otherwise apps wouldn’t be able to find the data they want.

Using an Auto-Claim Policy for Automatic Assignment of Licenses to Teams Users

A new Microsoft 365 admin center feature allows tenants to create an auto-claim policy to assign licenses when users sign into Teams for the first time. It seems like a good idea, but it’s limited by the fact that only Teams supports the auto-claim policy. No scoping exists either, which will disappoint those who like to manage licenses on a granular level. There’s some work to do before these policies will be right for everyone.

Accenture Releases Numbers for a Huge Teams Deployment

Microsoft and Accenture have published a case study including some interesting statistics about Accenture’s Microsoft 365 usage. Some interesting headline numbers are cited, but the more interesting detail about how Accenture manages such a large tenant isn’t discussed at all – and that would be very interesting to know.

Teams App Messages Captured by Microsoft 365 Substrate for Compliance Processing

The Microsoft 365 substrate now captures Teams app card data in compliance records to make the data available for eDiscovery, content searches, holds, and retention. The compliance records are stored in user and group mailboxes. Audit records for card interactions are also logged in the Office 365 audit log. Using compliance records means that some app data context is lost, but at least you can find the information.

How to Run a Trial of Viva Topics

Viva Topics is one of the four modules in the Microsoft Viva employee engagement platform. You can run a 25-user trial for 30 days to create some topics and see how things work. A trial should help an organization decide if they want to pay the $5/user/month Microsoft asks for Viva Topics licenses – and everyone needs a license to see topic cards, which is the point of Topics.

How to Use Microsoft 365 Priority Accounts for Access Checks

Microsoft 365 priority accounts are a way to mark accounts for special processing. Microsoft is building features to exploit priority accounts, but they can be used for other purposes, like checking if an account has account to a resource. Of course, multiple other methods exist to do the same job, but that’s not reason to exclude priority accounts from the mix.

Available Now: January 2021 Update for Office 365 for IT Pros

The January 2021 update is available for Office 365 for IT Pros, the only eBook about Microsoft’s cloud Office service that’s updated monthly. Twenty-one of the 24 content chapters are updated as change keeps on happening in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, Planner, Stream, Azure AD, and more.

How to Customize the Browser Theme for a Microsoft 365 Tenant

It’s easy to create a custom theme for the Office 365 browser apps (except Teams, which does its own thing). All you need is a corporate logo, some colors, and perhaps a sense of how colors go together. You can also block users from selecting from the default set of themes that come along with Office 365, an action that might just remove some light from some peoples’ lives.

How to Anonymize User Data in Microsoft 365 Usage Reports

The data used for Microsoft 365 usage reports comes from the Microsoft Graph. You can anonymize the data to replace references to user, group, and site names with system-generated values to protect user privacy. This works, but it reduces the usefulness of the reports by a large degree, so you should be prepared to switch to show full user data sometimes.

Teams Adopts Sharing Links for Files Shared in Chats and Channel Conversations

After a long delay to make adjustments, Teams is adopting the common file sharing mechanism used by Microsoft 365 applications. After being delayed, the roll-out starts in mid-March and should be complete in mid-April. 2021. With Teams in the fold, we can say that sharing is done consistently across Office 365, which can’t be a bad thing.

Come in Internet Explorer – Your Time is Up

Office 365 Tenants need to stop people using Internet Explorer. On November 30, Teams stops support for IE11; nine months later, the rest of the Microsoft 365 apps cease support. According to Microsoft, the only browser in town is the new Edge (which has an IE mode), but most will keep on using Chrome, Firefox, Brave, or Safari as they do today.

Microsoft Cloud Growth Continues Unabated

The Microsoft FY20 Q4 results included good news for its cloud segments with increasing activity, numbers, and revenue. Although we didn’t get new user numbers for Office 365 and Teams, Microsoft included some other interesting data about Azure Active Directory and EMS in its narrative.

How Outlook’s Notification Pane Displays Details of Office 365 Incidents

Outlook for Windows boasts a new admin notification panel where incidents affecting the Office 365 tenant show up. It’s an interesting idea, but you wonder if there aren’t more important things for the developers to work on, especially as many other ways exist for administrators to find out when problems happen.

Microsoft 365 Security for IT Pros Published

The New Microsoft 365 Security for IT Pros eBook is now available from Gumroad.com. The book is modeled after Office 365 for IT Pros and covers the essential steps tenant administrators should take to secure and defend their organizations. Security is something that everyone involved in tenant administration needs to think about, so it’s good to have some solid advice from the pros.

Teams is the Most Difficult Office 365 Application to Backup

Because it sits on top of so many Microsoft 365 components, Teams is easily the hardest Office 365 workload to backup. You can try to backup Teams by copying its compliance records stored in Exchange Online, but that’s only a partial (and bad) solution that utterly fails to take the full spectrum of Teams data into account.

Word Combines @Mentions and SharePoint Online Sharing Links

Word users range from casual to professional writers. Those involved in collaborative co-authoring can now @mention others in comments. The feature is available in Word and PowerPoint (click to run) and the Office Online apps now and Excel desktop is due to get it too. Documents must be stored in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business to allow @mentioned people access the files.

Updated Usage Reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Several updates are available for the standard usage reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. One helps Office 365 tenants understand the changed user activity profile due to remote working. Another gives views of user activity across the complete tenant. The updates are useful and interesting, but an ISV product will do a better job of analyzing and reporting the same data.

The Renaming of Office 365 Groups

In the latest example of rebranding wizardry, Microsoft has announced that Office 365 Groups are becoming Microsoft 365 Groups. You’d wonder if the rename is just to keep the marketing people happy. But maybe the new name reflects what Office 365 Groups have become. Less of a collaboration platform and more of a membership service for Microsoft 365 apps.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium Tenants Get Azure Active Directory Premium P1

Microsoft 365 Business Premium customers will benefit from the provision of Azure Active Directory P1 Premium licenses. All good, but what about the Office 365 E3 tenants who pay the same monthly fee? Many enterprise tenants could use the features licensed by Azure Active Directory Premium P1, but they’ll have to pay $6/user/month to get the same benefit.